Governance Impact Statement 2020-21 

A governing board has three core functions: 

  • To ensure clarity of vision, ethos, and strategic direction 
  • Challenging school leaders ensuring high educational standards for the school and its pupils, and for the effective performance management of staff 
  • Overseeing financial performance and making sure money is well spent 

Due to the Covid pandemic, governance was different to usual during the academic year 2020-21. Governors’ meetings were held virtually and very few in-person visits were made to the school. Attention turned to Covid-related risks, remote learning, and student and staff wellbeing. However, governors continued to hold school leaders to account for school development, educational quality, staff performance and financial management.   

Strategic Direction:
What difference has governance made? 

  • Governors agreed a renewed vision for the school, presented by the Headteacher as a future edition of newsletter Making Waves. This gives a clear vision of where the school will be in the next 3-5 years, led by innovative developments in the delivery of the curriculum, improved community links and further enhancement of extra-curricular opportunities, digital literacy, employability skills and aspirations for pupils. Governors will support and challenge the Headteacher in the development and delivery of a five-year strategy to achieve the vision.    
  • The Chair of Governors continued to talk regularly with the Headteacher and the Vice-Chair of Governors continued to act as a mentor to her, providing a sounding board and an “arm’s length” perspective useful for reflection and planning.   
  • Governors influenced agendas and discussion at meetings to ensure that important topics were raised in a timely manner, with the result the school has looked forward to anticipate future requirements.  
  • Governors approved the annual School Development Plan. They used this, and the school’s Risk Register, to guide their focus during the year, ensuring that leaders reflected and reported on the progress of objectives, considered steps needed to meet the objectives over the remainder of the year and retained a focus on the “big picture” in addition to day-to-day operational matters. Governors challenged leaders to assess the impact of any strategies implemented and to explore even better ways to achieve the school’s goals.  
  • Committees assessed how well risks on the Risk Register are being managed, reinforcing the importance of actively managing risks to reduce the likelihood and impact of an identified risk occurring.  

Quality of Education and Staff Performance:
What difference has governance made? 

  • Whilst the difficulties in producing robust student progress data at regular intervals given the unique challenges facing schools during the pandemic was understood, governors continued to request presentations and ask questions about delivery of teaching, addressing attainment and progress gaps, and how the impact of strategies will be measured and reviewed, including in relation to pupils with special educational needs.  
  • Governors supported the leadership team in its educational response to Covid, encouraging flexible solutions to issues that arose, whilst still maintaining high expectations on behalf of staff and students.  
  • Governors kept an eye on the support for more vulnerable students and cared about the well-being of staff, ensuring that appropriate support was in place. 
  • Progress was made in understanding how the school can encourage even better attitudes to learning.  
  • The Governing Body approved additional staff INSET days relating to improving the impact of assessment and students’ learning.  
  • As policies came up for review, Committees considered whether they continue to have a purpose and are effective.  
  • The link governor for pupil premium held constructive discussion with the Headteacher regarding the characteristics of schools where pupil premium pupils make good progress. As a result, consideration will be given to further improvements the school might make.
  • The link governor for SEND regularly met (virtually and in person) with the school’s Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator to better understand the demands on the SEND department and to hold them to account for effective support of students with SEND.
  • The link governor for health & safety contributed to the Covid Risk Assessment & Mitigation Strategy, supporting the leadership team to manage the safe return of pupils and staff to school. General health & safety monitoring has given confidence that the school is safe and compliant and that necessary remedial works are scheduled.  
  • Governors contributed to new teacher appointments by sitting on interview panels.
  • Scrutiny by governors led to a revision of a “student device scheme”, resulting in an improved outcome for new students and parents as a first step, with roll-out to other years if successful. 

Financial Performance and Best Value:
What difference has governance made? 

  • Selecting an appropriate candidate as Business Manager (Chief Financial Officer) has had a positive overall impact on the effectiveness of the senior leadership team and the management of non-teaching staff at the school.  
  • Regular monitoring of budget variances, key performance indicators and cashflow ensure school finances are understood and managed proactively. 
  • Governor expertise and questioning have assisted in matters relating to school premises, in refining the three-year budget, in ensuring that the school benefits from available funding and in ensuring that plans are in place for the destruction of records in accordance with the data retention policy.  
  • Governors have ensured the school’s financial procedures and policies continue to comply with rules set by the Educations & Skills Funding Agency and other bodies. 

The Board regularly reviews how it functions and during 2020-21 changed its committee structure to improve effectiveness and reduce the number of meetings.  

Details of our governance arrangements, the composition of our Board of Governors, meeting attendance and minutes can be found on the governance page of our website.